Apr 29, 2011

X is for Xenophobia


Xenophobia is the fear of strangers, but has come to mean the fear of any person or group that is foreign to our own comfortable assumptions. It can develop as a hatred towards races at a cultural level, or at a more micro level it could be the unreasonable hatred of people not within your social group (cheerleaders hating chess club members). 

We all make assumptions about people, that's our overactive imaginations showing they work, but how that manifests into our behaviour will reveal whether we are xenophobic. Most of our stories will have at least one xenophobic character. In my fantasy novel The Costume Maker, my trio travel to another world where they come across three very different communities, each hating the other. I'm not sure if wars start from xenophobia (or if they are more politically devised for more sinister ulterior motives), but they are certainly propelled by it. Governments have been known to use people's mistrust and fear of the unfamiliar to allow them to differentiate themselves from the target culture, the way we disassociate ourselves from a different species. I guess this just makes it easier to hate.

So who's xenophobic in your novel? Matilda just posted a book review on Paper Dolls about a novel where a family find a bunny and take it in, the suspicious cat thinks this bunny is a vampire and therefore fears it, it turns out maybe a little understanding was needed instead. Check out Bunnicula.

X also marked the spot yesterday - it was my birthday and I had some wonderful surprises. It was also sweet to see many good cheers sent my way via Facebook. Thanks Facebook, I would forget many of my own family's birthdays if it wasn't for you.

15 comments:

  1. I love the comic strip. Happy Birthday well late Birthday. I hope that it was wonderful for you.

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  2. Since we're in different countries, which one of us is the foreigner?

    Happy B'day.
    mood

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  3. Bunnicula was one of my favorite books when I was growing up. You should also check out Howliday Inn and The Celery Stalks at Midnight. They are wonderful!

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  4. Happy Bday. We're not far apart, I'm an April baby, too.

    Of course, I just turned 40, so I out-date you by many years.


    - Eric

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  5. Happy Birthday :) XX

    This is the second post I have read about Xenophobia. It is good to learn something new.

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  6. Happy Birthday. Great post on X. I think it would be fun to write a story with characters with their own special phobia.

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  7. Happy Birthday!
    And thanks for mentioning that book, it sound very cute!

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  8. Feliz Cupleanos! And I like your comic strip, too, especially since a writer friend is writing about a butt-kicking warrior princess.

    Thought provoking post...come to think of it, there is a character in my MG who says something to my protagonist that could be considered xenophobic.

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  9. Thanks for all the birthday wishes!
    And Eric, thanks for trying, but I'm 42 so I actually outrank you ;-j

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  10. Good article. You're so right about those in power using our fears to segregate. It has resulted in the 'ethnic cleansing' we've witnessed in the last century.

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  11. Great article. I do have a character in my book,a judge who you have described. I just did not know the clinical name for his behavior and actions until now. Thanks fot the information & I hope you had a great birthday

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